Ricky Majica comments on Palette layout, Asphaltum and Lead Paint

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Ricky Mujica with his beautiful wife Joy.

Ricky Mujica is a friend and mentor of mine.  He critiques my work, gives me assignments and provides thoughtful and wonderful advice.  We met online when I  tried to buy one of his paintings and also see if he taught workshops.  The painting that I was interested in had already been sold and he did not teach at all.  He had a “real” job as a graphic artist.  We started chatting on line and I started showing him my work.  Which is something I very rarely do.  That was over a year ago and l still have not actually met Ricky in person.  Hopefully, that’s all about to change.  We are planning to meet sometime this week at the Frick Museum and see the Vermeer exhibit.   I will hopefully have the privilege of meeting Ricky and Ricky’s brand new son Julian in person.  Ricky always has the most interesting comments.  I thought it was worth another post just to talk about them.  Below is the comment from Rickey about Ryan Brown’s last post:

I used to set up my colors in a similar way. Now I prefer to set up white in the middle and then warm colors to the right and cool colors to the left. The use of Asphaltum is interesting. I’ve always wanted to try that but just haven’t gotten around to it. I would be very careful with lead white though. It’s more dangerous to your health than most of the other oil paints.

Still enjoying your posts Shelli. Glad you are posting regularly again :)


My comments on Ricky’s thoughts:

You have the best comments!

My teachers all set up their palettes differently.  I can’t remember if it was Ellen Cooper or Alex Tyng that set up their palette similarly to yours, except Ellen or Alex put a cool and a warm of the same color right next to each other on their palette.  I also put my white in the middle along with Buff, because Aaron Westerberg recommended Georgian Buff (It’s the only brand that uses 100% Titanium Dioxide PWG).  Aaron taught me to use the Buff instead of white during the the first stages of a painting.  Only at the very end of the painting process, do you use a titanium or another bright white and only then on your lightest lights.  This makes for a very vibrant painting.

I like Asphaltum too.  it’s a nice strong dark color.  It is however not like any other color because up until recently Asphaltum  was actually the basis of what we know as asphalt.  images-1Asphaltum has been known to crack paintings.  “Today companies like Gamblin offers Asphaltum in their Earth collection, describing it as a transparent brownish black recreation of the 18th century material that is true to the original compound’s working properties, but with better drying time and light stability.  Today this color is not made from asphalt, it is in fact a mixture of transparent Mars Red with Bone Black in linseed oil.” this is a quote from a dissertation of Andrew Kasick for the departments of Art and Chemistry Marietta College April 2013.images

Lead poisoning is a very serious issue.  It only takes a microscopic amount of lead to be poisoned.  The risk is not only to the artist but to any children that come in contact with the paint.  It’s good that Ryan does not have his studio at home.  It is believed that Caravaggio’s chaotic lifestyle and eventual death,  Francisco Goya’s deafness and eventual death and Vincent van Gogh, epileptic seizors, delirium and eventual death were all caused by lead poisoning. f_0296

Thanks for the great comment Ricky!

Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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